Buying a car is a hugely personal thing. Put it this way, if the Lottery drops into your lap tomorrow, what would you buy? For a lot of folk it’d be an immediate trip to their local Ferrari dealer with cash in hand. Others however, wouldn’t be seen dead in one. Some would go for a bit of rarity value like a McLaren or perhaps some serious nostalgia with an AC Cobra.
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Granted, they’re the sort of cars that you might fancy for doing a bit of ‘boulevarding’ but, when it comes to nipping down to the takeaway, do you seriously want to roll up in some flash machinery and attract a few unwanted gestures from the local proletariat.
We have a solution. Why not get something that’ll knock the socks off many Ferraris, Porsches, Jags and Mercs?
The brand new, launched in April 2017, Volkswagen Golf R.
Now before you snigger, it’s worth pointing out that cars like the VW Golf GTi haven’t achieved iconic status by some sort of fluke. It has been the hot hatch that every other pretender to the hot hatch crown has always been measured against. Most don’t even come close. Yes, some are faster. Yes, some are more shouty with lots of spoilers, skirts, fat alloys and bright paint jobs, but none of them are as complete in terms of mating performance, economy, handling, comfort, equipment levels and simple day-to-day practicality.
The Volkswagen Golf R merely moves things on by a few notches.
Let’s start with the basics. The Golf R is available in three or five door hatchback body styles and as an estate. For the entry level three-door version you’ll need to find £31,865. All models come with the same engine; a four-cylinder turbocharged petrol unit that develops 315bhp. This gives you blistering performance of 0-60 in a shade over 4.5 seconds and a top speed which is limited to 155mph. Resist the temptation to use all of the power (unlikely, we know) and you won’t be far away from 40mpg. You can opt for either a six-speed manual gearbox or a really slick 7-speed auto. Normally we’d always prefer a manual ’box for a car like this but, to be honest, the DSG auto is really good. It’s up to you whether you feel adding an extra £1400 to the bill is worth it for the auto.
Is the Volkswagen Golf R the ultimate Golf? In many ways you’d have to say yes
Many of you will remember the Golf R32 or Golf VR6 which, as the name suggests, was powered by a 3.2 litre V6 engine. Okay, this latest R model may have what appears to be a smaller engine and of course doesn’t have that lovely 6-cylinder growl, but the response is fantastic. Dab the throttle and the car hurtles towards the horizon. As with the previous models, you get all-wheel drive which of course adds to the handling capabilities. It has oodles of grip. Chuck the car into a corner and your courage will run out long before the grip does.
Where the Volkswagen Golf R really scores over competition like the Ford Focus RS or Honda Civic Type R, is in the areas which you only appreciate after living with the car. There’s decent boot space, plenty of room in the back, comfortable but supportive seats, and good levels of standard kit including sat nav, air con, DAB radio, Bluetooth and masses of safety gear. It’ll pootle down to the shops or on the school run, or blast around the M25.
It looks really smart too in a subtle sort of way. Deep spoilers front and back; sills and handsome alloys complete an understated aggressive appearance. The Lapiz Blue paint job suited the car perfectly.
So, is the Volkswagen Golf R the ultimate Golf? In many ways you’d have to say yes, but it’s not cheap, which brings us back to the lottery. If you want to be part of an exclusive crowd and can afford the premium price, you will love the Golf R. If you want the same thrills, convenience and top quality build, and almost identical performance (without four-wheel drive), go for the GTi. (£27,865 for the three-door model). Either way, you’re getting one of the best hot hatches available. The legend lives on.
For more info, volkswagen.co.uk